I’ve always heard that men hit their sexual peak at age 17 and women at age 35 — and I didn’t really question it. But if you think about it for a minute, that’s pretty terrible news for women who have sex with men and men who have sex with women. Those numbers imply that boys are at their best sexually before they even officially become men and that by the time women are ready to go, those dudes are 17 years into a long, slow decline. Because that’s how a peak works: You go up one side, hit the top, and then go back down the other. Depressing AF, am I right? But when you actually examine the idea of “sexual peak,” things get a bit more complicated than those two numbers alone could ever communicate.
First of all, the definition of sexual peak has varied through the years. Those numbers that everyone cites can be traced back to Alfred Kinsey, who did his groundbreaking research on human sexuality in the 1940s. One of the questions he asked participants was “How many orgasms do you have per week?” For men, the most orgasms were had at age 18. For women, it was in their mid-30s.
But think about 18-year-old men. Think about their sexual habits. There’s one thing in particular that men that age are kind of known for: Masturbation. When you consider that, it becomes clear that “number of orgasms” is different than “satisfying sex life.” And that’s really how we think of sexual peak these days: A time when you’re having the most and best sex of your life.
So with that in mind, here are four different scientific explanations for when men and women hit their sexual peaks.